Friday, August 12

Recreation, leisure and leisure in children, increasingly privileged activities

With the small and dexterous hands of her seven years, Lola cuts out colored paper that she will then paste on the edge of a triangular piece of cardboard. Classes ended almost three weeks ago and for the family of this girl from Madrid, as for many others in Spain, vacations and children’s leisure are a luxury to which they do not have access. Lola participates in a camp of the Chapotea Educational Play Center, in Puente de Vallecas, where children and adolescents in a situation of vulnerability, risk of poverty or exclusion have access to free recreation and leisure activities during the summer.

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According to the latest report by the NGO Save The Children, for the 20% of the population with the lowest income, the cost of raising children – which is calculated at 672 euros on average – directly exceeds their income: almost 900,000 households cannot cover that expense even devoting all your income to it. Inflation is worsening this already complicated situation: if the cost of children has increased by 11.3% from 2018 to 2022, that of activities related to leisure and toys has shot up to 25%.

The last Survey of life conditions highlights that since the 2008 crisis there has been “a process of redevelopment of child poverty. Half of the children and adolescents at risk of poverty in Spain are now concentrated in highly populated areas, due to the constant growth of poverty in cities. In fact, the difference between the child poverty rate in rural and urban areas has gone from 15 percentage points in 2013 to two points in 2020.

potato magnets

Lola’s favorite activities, who have been going to the center since she was four years old, are crafts and going to the pool. But not only that. “I like the camps because we play games and because there are cows. I like cows, I want to be a veterinarian”, she tells enthusiastically. “We have made potato magnets,” she says with a smile that spreads to Alisson, her table companion and friend of the same age, with whom she forms a duo named “Aliló” after the initials of her names.

In this group of boys and girls from six to nine years old, Jonathan stands out. He is Lola’s cousin and dreams of being a boxer. “You don’t beat me in a fight,” he says very seriously. With them is Yarisa Escudero, 19 years old. She is in her second year of high school and belongs to the gypsy community. She came to Splash when she was three and has spent all of her summer vacations there. She now collaborates as a volunteer. “Every year a group is formed that ends up being like a family. Right now we’re still in touch”, she says about the friends she’s made over the years.

This program has not only helped her discover her talent for drawing, but also provided her with the course to become a free time instructor. She is still not sure what she will do in the future, but what she does know is that she will continue to support in Chapotea so that more children with limited resources enjoy recreational activities that help them in their growth. “I’ve been here all my life and I’ll always be here,” she says.

“Everyone fits here”

“The boys and girls with whom we work carry their backpacks full of experiences that are sometimes very negative or from very unfavorable family environments or social contexts,” explains the coordinator of Chapotea, Elena Rebollo. The activities taught at this center are financed by the CaixaProinfancia program of the ‘La Caixa’ Foundation, which supports more than 300 other projects of this type in Spain. Rebollo explains that they range from pool days and crafts to sports and outings to natural environments, which allows minors to assume roles different from those of their usual circles, always based on respect.

The district of Puente de Vallecas has a population of 239,000 inhabitants, of which almost 32,500 are children and adolescents between 0 and 15 years old, according to data from the Madrid City Council. “We are in a very special social context, we have the highest rates of absenteeism and unemployment. If you analyze the district, it has a high level of conflict and a great need for intervention”, adds Rebollo, who also details that the main problems that families in Vallecas go through are related to poor academic training, economic insecurity, lack of stable employment and issues of gender and domestic violence. “Everyone fits here –summarizes Rebollo–, no matter your skin color, your family roots and your cultural origin”.

A childhood right

Article 43 of the Spanish Constitution emphasizes the right to health education, physical education and sports, as well as the “appropriate use of leisure”; however, it is becoming increasingly difficult to allocate resources for children’s recreation. Inflation has reduced the purchasing power of the poorest households by 30% more than that of the rich, according to the latest Intermón Oxfam report.

Families allocate the largest amount of money from their budget to food and work-life balance, followed by extraordinary expenses, education and housing, so children’s recreation and leisure opportunities are increasingly limited.

“When this year we have kids graduating, about ten or so, this makes sense. Or some kid we’ve had who suddenly goes to university or who comes to visit you or becomes a volunteer for the project, he’s a positive reference for us and [este trabajo] it makes sense”, says Rebollo.

“There are children who, if they had not been here, would have ended up in horrible places,” says Nazaret Gabarri, 20, another of the volunteers. Her older brothers, her cousins ​​and now her nephews are and were part of these classrooms. “I come almost every day, it is a job that I like to do, I like to help, I like to teach what they taught me here too,” explains Nazaret, who emphasizes that his main goal is to give a little of what he received in his childhood. , continue with that chain of giving to receive. A carved wooden sign displays a phrase that gives meaning to its objective: “In this house we are real, we make mistakes, we say ‘sorry’, we give second chances, we hug, we forgive, we have fun, we love. We are a family”.